Patterns at Rest

marla_small

This morning I found a stash of old pen and ink drawings. Not 1880’s this time, but 1980’s. From artist Marla Todd.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Take this with your (on a shirt, a phone cover, a pillow, a scarf and more…. go to http://www.redbubble.com/people/marlatoddkings/works/14705619-marla-patterns

Now you can take me wherever you go.

The first in a series of Vampire Maman Shirts… and other things, is now available on Redbubble.com

%22Vampire Maman - Juliette%22 T-Shirts & Hoodies by marlatoddkings | Redbubble-6

http://www.redbubble.com/people/marlatoddkings/works/14696191-vampire-maman-juliette?grid_pos=1&p=t-shirt

Also available as mugs, pillows (my favorite), scarves and more.

%22Vampire Maman - Juliette%22 tote %22Vampire Maman - pillow %22Vampire Maman - Juliette%22 print travel mug

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

How to discourage a teenager and guarantee they lose all interest in school.

The college kid lives a charmed life but this year he had a complaint. Wow. At the big university no less. The TA (a graduate student who is a teaching assistant) in his chemistry class is a jerk. By jerk he means an arrogant bleached blonde Australian who talked like he has a mouth full of marbles. I guess the guy can’t surf very well either. He is a prick (the kid’s words not mine.) He doesn’t want to help students. The class is so large (over 100 students) that the professor is obviously unaware of the frustrations of the students. That is an age old problem with universities. Not arrogant Australians, but classes in huge lecture halls and little personal interaction between students and professors. Other than that my child says the classes and professors are fantastic.

High school is, well, high school is another matter. I’ll give you a little background then I’ll give you my opinion. I promise I’ll make it quick.

In her freshman year (last year) my daughter had a horrible experience. I’ll give you the run down.

Spanish: Two temporary teachers until three months into school a permanent teacher was finally found. The kids got on track but it wasn’t easy.

Math: The teacher told the kids to learn mostly from each other. Considering only two kids in the class knew what they were doing that method was a total failure. We had to hire a tutor.

English: Total FAIL. The teacher was negative and unavailable. No matter how hard my child tried she was shot down for every idea and comment she had. When the students were asked questions they were told to “look it up.” Soon she just stopped saying anything or trying. The behavior of students in this class could only be described as out of control.

Science: The teacher had either mental health or drug problems (or both) and was never there. For months the students had a string of substitutes. In the middle of the year they finally had a permanent substitute come in, but by then the class was completely out of control. It was a total waste of time for the students.

PE: That was ok, but it is PE. My daughter complained about all of the stoners in her class.

Geography: This was a bright spot. The teacher was enthusiastic and inspired the students in a variety of interesting ways.

Health: FAIL. The teacher was a shop teacher – as in wood shop. The class was in a room with huge fans going so the students couldn’t hear the teacher. This guy had no business teaching health (state mandated class) but I guess he was the only one available. Everything concerning female health was brushed over. I won’t even go into it. Just believe me. It was a fail.

Despite all of this my child made good grades – above average. She was still extremely discouraged.

In defense of the teachers…

Most complaints were about the HORRIBLE kids in the classes. Behavior was out of control. It was a constant barrage of sexual comments, racist comments, cuss words, the N word, a lot of F bombs, middle class white boys trying to be ghetto (and just making fools of themselves) and disrespect for the teachers and other students. They threw things. They yelled. They lied. And on top of that two violent kids who should have never been mainstreamed into the general population were allowed to be in the class. The other students (and teachers) were terrified.  I’ve blogged about this before.

But what about the parents?

Yes, what about the parents of these asshole kids who ruin it for everyone else. What about the girls who dress like whores and get into girl fights. What about the kids with a vocabulary that consists of grunts, swear words and an occasional “what? hun?”

What about the kids who show no respect for the teachers or other students. What about the boys who constantly sexually harass other kids. What about the kids who are spending their time sharing nude photos of each other? What about the kids who are yelling racist remarks at other kids, even if the kid isn’t the race they’re yelling about?

Parents? What the fuck? Do you even know what an asshole your kid is? Did he learn if from you? Do you have any idea your kid is preventing other kids from learning? Did you? Are you that fucking clueless. Yes, I’m using a bad word but maybe that is the only way to get through to you.

OK I’m done with my rant.

This year high school is great. The teachers are engaged with the students. They talk to the 15 and 16 year old students about their futures. They try to teach the hows and whys. They are available to answer questions – even stupid questions. Believe me there are a lot of stupid questions.

Fantastic news right? In some ways, yes it is. But think about the students who were so discouraged in their freshman year that they lost interest and mentally just dropped out. They stopped caring. They learned to shrug and tune out. The chip on their shoulders for school is now crazy glued on there.

Some of the problem kids are either gone or growing up. The sexist and racist remarks still go on. That bothers me and it bothers most kids in the school.

I’d go on for a while longer and then go back and edit but unfortunately I don’t have that luxury today.

So I’ll wrap it up and say what I always say.

If you don’t like a teacher or disagree don’t blame the teacher. Do what he/she wants. Do exactly what they want. Try your hardest. Know you are better. Know the class will be over soon. Prove the teacher wrong by doing your best. If the teacher is just an idiot then complain to the administrators (like that will do any good)

And appreciate your good teachers. Most teachers are great teachers with passion and dedication to their students. But hey, if you were in a class all day with a bunch of kids who disruptive and disinterested you’ll get burned out too. It just takes a few brats to ruin it for everyone.

I always wondered why behavior that is illegal in the workplace is legal in schools. What the Hell do school administrators do? They obviously don’t support teachers with behavioral issues. Yes, teachers do kick kids out of class. They yell at kids. They fail kids. But there is only so much they can do if parents don’t teach their kids to respect authority and to respect themselves.

So those are my thoughts today – just things I thought about after I dropped my daughter off at school today.

To all of the sophomore teachers at my daughter’s school – good job. You are loved.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Weird Days

Redefinition

I’ve thought about that word a lot lately.

This morning I was going to walk the dog down for coffee, not for the dog, but for me. I usually use my lovely little red French Press… anyway, you don’t care about that.

I didn’t get coffee because I was called out. My brother Aaron said I must come quickly to his office. I asked why. He just said to come to his office. I yelled at him to tell me. I hate games. Just tell me. He hung up the phone.

What is it with Vampires that they’ll never tell you anything.

Thirty minutes later (I didn’t want to get a ticket) I was sitting across my impeccable brother in the law offices of Todd and Xavier, my brother Aaron being the Todd half of the firm.

He smiled, something he doesn’t do enough of. “So how are things?”

Really? How are things? “OK,” I said. “Clara made the highest score in the class on her English essay. It was about peer pressure.”

“Fantastic.”

That was all he said. I could hear the birds outside and some traffic in the distance. Otherwise we sat there in silence.

“Why’d you call me Aaron? What is it?”

He slid a paper across his desk. He didn’t tell me to read it. He just put it in front of me.

It was to Mr. Aaron Todd, Esq.  It made me slightly proud of my brother. Then I read what he’d pushed in front of me.

I read the letter then shrugged. I like to shrug when I think something is stupid.

“You never told me you had a grave,” said Aaron.

Back in 1921 my then boyfriend Pleasant Van Dusen and I were buried. Then we were unburied and, long story but in a cemetery in Southern California are empty caskets and a double headstone with our names on them.

Aaron’s office phone rang. He answered and said, “show him in.”

And there was Pleasant, my old flame. “I hear someone wants to exhume us.”

Then we just laughed. I mean, there wasn’t anything that could be done about it. We could say no but why not add to the mystery. How someone even found Aaron as the heir to the Aaron who lived in 1921 and took care of the “estate.”

My brother spoke up. “They want to film a documentary on cemetery mysteries. It seems as if someone back then thought you were Vampires. I don’t want to have to answer to anyone when they dig up empty caskets.”

Pleasant smiled. “The caskets aren’t empty.”

Well, that was a surprise.

“Who pray tell is in them?” I had to ask. I mean, I really had to ask.

Pleasant sat next to me and took my hand. “You’re looking good Jewels. How are Teddy and the kids?”

“Who is in the caskets?”

“An architect and his wanna be movie star girlfriend.”

“Donald and Olive. I thought they’d skipped town.”

“After they tortured and killed his pregnant wife they headed out with all of her money but…some friends of his wife, who were also friends of mine took care of them.”

I suddenly felt sick thinking about all of the stupid things I’d done in my past. But I had no idea this had happened.

“Do whatever you want. I don’t care. They don’t have our real names so nothing will come back to us. Beside that we’d be, what, a hundred and twenty years old according to the dates on the gravestones.”

“I’ll say no,” said Aaron. “Rest in peace.”

Pleasant and I left Aaron’s office together and walked around the corner for coffee. It was nice being with Pleasant even thought there were so many times that I truly hated him.

We talked about our spouses and raising Modern Vampire children. Of course we raised them to be far smarter and wiser than we were in our sorted pasts.

Pleasant took my hand and asked, “do you think we could have made it together.”

“Maybe, but no. We were too stupid. We would have stayed stupid if we’d stayed together.”

He laughed and we agreed to keep in touch.

So anyway, I try not to dwell on the past. I know where the bodies are hidden but that doesn’t mean I need to go visit them, much less think about them.

I headed over to the high school to pick up my daughter. How things have changed. Her life will be far better and far more sane than mine ever was. That is a good thing. The same goes for Pleasant’s children.

The goal is to learn from our mistakes, before we become parents. I can’t expound on that anymore than I already have.

So much for weird days. Then again, most of my days are weird. I can only hope that yours, dear reader, are not.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

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Short Story Sunday: Glass Dreams

Dreams: An Austin and Elizabeth Story (Part 15)

“I had one of those real dreams last night. You know those dreams where it seems real. I mean really real, like you’re there and you know the people. Dreams that make you feel like it is happening to you RIGHT NOW.”

The dream involved a zombie apocalypse, an air ship sort of air plane, a roughly handsome zombie general who was addicted to prescription pain killers and carried a guitar with him, and a zombie queen. It wasn’t his usual type of dreams. Austin explained his Little Nemo in Hell story as Elizabeth listened.

“They weren’t really zombies in the classic sense, but they had been changed into something else. Like followers in bodies and minds that were connected. Don’t think I’m crazy. It was so real.”

“You’re talking to a Vampire,” she said with just the slightest smile. He thought he could see a bit of fang. “You had a classic Steampunk Zombie dream. It isn’t common but it isn’t that unusual.”

Every guy she ever dated, Regular Human or Zombie had told her about variations on that dream. She knew where it had come from. The ambrotype that held the dream was propped up on a book shelf in her living room.

That is what happens when you are the caretaker of a man who is trapped in an alternate universe within a piece of glass reflecting his image.

handsome Victorian man

Elizabeth kissed Austin. “You should write it down. Really. I’m serious. I’m going to make coffee.” She slid out of the covers and put on a robe. “Coffee sounds good right now.”

It was 3:00 a.m. but she didn’t keep track of time unless she had an appointment. By the time she left the bedroom Austin was already asleep again.

In the kitchen she thought of Austin with his dreams and his warm skin. She turned the burner on under the water kettle and then closed her eyes for a second to think of his touch and the sound of his voice. Almost immediately she opened her eyes again to the sound of heavy breathing.

Her eyes opened. Standing before her was the man in the glass.

“Your man is dreaming of me. Do you know how embarrassing that is?”

“I can’t help it.”

“I’m no walking dead man. Plus I was never addicted to pain killers.”

“I’m well aware of that. Listen, Austin had a dream. Nothing else.”

“I’ve got a hankering to trade places with him. If he was to be in the glass I could…”

“I’ll smash the glass.”

“You’d kill me after all we’ve been through together?”

She lifted her coffee cup up to him and smiled. “Yes, I’d kill you.”

With that he vanished. She put more milk in her coffee and thought about her life a long time ago when she was as warm as the man sleeping in her bed upstairs. There were no Vampires or alternate universes or zombies or ghosts or other things that go bump in the dark. She lived in a world where the only thing one could not see was the face of God. It was a time when no respectable single woman would have a man spend the night. It was time when a Vampire like her would never be falling in love with a mortal man.

Going upstairs she crawled back into bed next to the warm body. Austin held her close and whispered, “I love you,” in her ear.

Elizabeth fought the urge to sink her teeth into his neck. Getting out of bed again she went downstairs again and curled up with a book. The man in the glass followed her with his eyes. Turning the glass portrait around she returned to the book and tried to forget how complicated her life had gotten.

_______________

For the entire Austin and Elizabeth Series CLICK HERE.

What the heck… on poetry and other things.

A Vampire Poem

What the heck,

I’ll bite your neck.

The Werewolf

I watch for the moonrise,

The fire in your canine eyes,

Your transformation and your lies,

Then you eat him and he dies.

I’m been so out of it (as you can tell from the poetry here) that I didn’t realize that April is National Poetry Month. So celebrate and read poetry or write it or listen to somebody else reading it.

My well known thoughts on poetry:

A need you dare not admit. Poetry on a Vampire Mom blog? Why? I’ll tell you.

People won’t admit they read poetry and are moved by it…but late at night they go on the Internet and search it out. It is like pornography. I’m dead serious (no pun intended). It is a need that most people will not dare admit to.

It isn’t a good time for me to expound upon the history of poetry or what caused the American population (among others) claim not to like poets. But I would like to remind everyone, especially those of us who can remember the past several centuries that there was a time that poets were the Rock Stars of our culture.

Sometimes I pull out my old volumes of favorites and read in the quiet of the night or on a rain soaked day. In turn, I also look for the new. I marvel at the many voices I see with poetry on the Internet.

Part of me believes technology with recorded music, radio, TV etc maybe brought an end to the poet as a popular icon. But in turn the Internet, yes the Internet has brought poetry back to life.

I see in the online communities poets being read, not ignored. I don’t read those words online “I don’t like poetry.” I see people who NEVER would read a poem, forwarding poetry to their friends and loved ones.

Poetry is a gift to the soul. Poetry is for everyone. Everyone needs poetry, like a vampire needs blood, like a hawk needs to fly, like a fish needs to swim. I know that wasn’t very poetic but you get the point – I hope.

Your assignment today is to READ, SAVOR and SHARE poetry with someone you love.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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 Something that is NOT poetic is MS aka Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system. It is also more common than you think. There are 200K to 3M cases in the Untied States per year.

In honor of our friends and writers who have MS all proceeds of the WPaD Anthologies go to MS research.

Just think, by buying and reading these fantastic poetry and short story anthologies you can help so many. And the books are cheap. I mean really cheap. Like under $5 cheap for the electronic versions.

You’ll thank me for it later because you’ll like these books so much.

From the WPaD page (wpad.weebly.com)

We are Writers, Poets and Deviants, AKA WPaD.

We are an independent publishing group made up of writers who collaborate on thematic anthologies to raise funds for MS research.

We meet on the internet to share ideas and challenge ourselves to write in different genres. The stories and poetry we compose are compiled into books, which are sold to help raise funds in support of group members who live with MS.

To date, WPaD has published six books. The seventh, our second horror collection, is scheduled for release in 2015.

Available in paperback and electronic ebook versions on Amazon, Good Reads, Barnes and Noble and other fine online booksellers.

Available in paperback and electronic ebook versions on Amazon, Good Reads, Barnes and Noble and other fine online booksellers.

Books by WPaD:

Goin’ Extinct (apocalyptic ~ published in 2014)
Tinsel Tales (holiday ~ published in 2013)
Dragons and Dreams (fantasy ~ published in 2013)
Passion’s Prisms (romance ~ published in 2013)
Creepies (horror ~ published in 2012)
Nocturnal Desires (erotica ~ published in 2012)

Coming in 2015:
Creepies 2 (horror)

Writers who donate stories and poetry to our anthologies do not receive payment, but they do retain all rights to those works so that they are free to publish them elsewhere in any way they wish.

Authors whose submissions are accepted for publication grant permission for WPaD to ‘borrow’ their pieces for publication in one book only, unless otherwise agreed.

Go to Amazon.com or other fine online booksellers to find these books – available in electronic and paperback versions.

WPaD Publications

WPaD Publications